Road

Yates ‘frustrated’ by San Sebastian chaos following win

Adam Yates wants race organizers held accountable for Van Avermaet crash but bristles at claims that he doesn't deserve WorldTour victory.

MILAN (VN) — Adam Yates won the Clásica San Sebastián on Saturday but felt “frustrated” by what happened afterward. He turned on his smartphone and saw Internet messages saying that he did not deserve the win.

In the hills above the Spanish seaside town, a television motorbike crashed into rival Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing). Later on the same climb, Yates, in his Orica-GreenEdge colors, attacked. He descended to San Sebastián where he won solo. The party, however, was short-lived.

“Did it leave a sour taste? Well yeah. Where do you want me to start!? It’s frustrating,” Yates told VeloNews.

“I saw messages on Twitter saying that I don’t deserve to win, stuff like that. It’s not like I can change what happened.”

The Spanish WorldTour race was plagued by bad television coverage that confused the incident that happened on the final Bordako Tontorra climb. Belgian Van Avermaet said that he “had a big gap” in a press release. BMC team president, Jim Ochowicz added, “Greg [Van Avermaet] was robbed.”

Grainy images of the incident emerged later. Fans lined the road and a motorbike travelling at slow speed swerved and clipped Van Avermaet’s rear wheel. The footage also showed Yates close behind, around two yards back, when Van Avermaet fell to the right.

Yates remained with a small group and attacked solo before the top of the climb that left 7.1 kilometers to San Sebastián, where the situation sunk in.

BMC released its press statements over the following 24 hours. Ochowicz explained he is ready to take legal action.

Yates refrained from commenting, but his twin brother and teammate Simon could not resist commenting on Twitter about what BMC said.

“Obviously, you say things after the race in the heat of the moment. He was frustrated, and rightly so. How often does a motorbike run into you when you are leading? I understand their frustration,” Adam Yates continued.

“Before the video of the crash came out, it sounded as if Van Avermaet had a big gap. I was there, right behind, and had to brake for the motorbikes. But it’s not about Van Avermaet, it’s about the organization.

“The organizer needs to reduce the people on the road or put up barriers. The fans are great in the Basque Country; they climb up the road, which is so small anyway, to see the race. They’re so passionate, but it creates stress and narrows our space. The organizer should work on it to avoid crashes that could be easily avoided.”

Earlier this year in País Vasco, another top-level WorldTour race, a similar incident happened. The organizer left traffic poles in the road that the race used in the closing kilometer of stage one to Bilbao. Yates broke his finger in that race, and BMC’s Peter Stetina broke his right tibia, patella, and four ribs.

Yates called both incidents frustrating, but said that the organizer could have avoided them with proper planning.

Now, he simply wants to look ahead. He will travel to Canada in September to race the Tour of Alberta, and the GP de Québec and the GP de Montréal. The Clásica San Sebastián gives him a mental boost.

“Confidence goes a long way. I showed that last year when I won the Tour of Turkey, every race I went to afterwards I was full of confidence,” said Yates. “Like I said, confidence goes a long way.”